A-Z Challenge 2019 – U is for Understanding of a study and the necessity to AIM for globalisation

AtoZ2019UWhenever I teach the Pharos course in One-Name Studies one of the things that comes up either via email or via the online discussion forum is the concern of being global with a study.

One of the principles of a Guild of One-Name Studies registered study is that the study should AIM to be global.  No one expects a member to register a surname with material from every Country on the planet!

When the Guild first started, back in 1979 the phrase was a “substantial body of data” and even that means something quite different in the internet age. A substantial body of data is very easily achieved in the modern internet age, compared to when the founder members of the Guild were working on their study. I took three years to extract the index references for the birth, marriages & deaths in England and Wales for the surname of Orlando, compared to about three minutes using FreeBMD. Times change. Nor do we have the volunteers to check when your study went global or when you plan to do so!

The commitment is to aim to be global. If you are living in the United States and you want to undertake a One-Name study you likely start on home turf – you might choose to start with the State you reside in, the state where you know your ancestors lived, the state that has the most occurrences of the surname, or you may choose to work though each State, alphabetically, extracting and gathering what material you can, depending on the availability of records. Whatever your choice, it might, depending on surname take you a decade to leave the United States. That does not mean you are not global, just that you are working on your plan. Very few of us can spend every waking moment on our studies,even if it appears that we do or we want to!

What is the point of global?

We live in a world where migration, short and long term is easily achieved and that is not new; migration has been going on for centuries. All that has changed is the speed in which the migration takes place. Migration from England to Australia or Botany Bay took months in the transportation era, yet the last time I flew it was, from my former home in south west England to mid New South Wales a mere 39 hours (inclusive of waiting for the various checks, boarding, or other tedious matters).

Global, allows us as researchers to find people we actually did not know we had “lost”. Looking at my own paternal Grandmother’s family. She was the youngest of four and the only one to remain living in Sutera, Sicily. Her brother and two sisters migrated to the United States and thanks to the amount of material online and the enumerator who listened and wrote what he heard and the individual being specific, I was able to trace the brother with ease.

Now, I am not studying Licata as a One-Name Study, but if I was I would be able to identify the family and look to what happened to them in the future. I could then focus on our Countries too, such as Canada as getting into the United States from Canada was often easier. Alternatively Australia, because when the United States began restricting migration in 1919 following the First World War and then later with the  financial crash in the early 1930’s migrants began looking to other options. There were only two. Stay where you were which for some was not an option or to look to migrate somewhere that was taking in those from other countries.

So whatever the surname, the chances are there are folk who have migrated as a way of avoiding persecution on the grounds of politics or religion, Displacement following war. Transportation to the United States or later Australia, or ten pound Poms as a plan to populate other parts of the “Empire”. Or perhaps due to working in the military, or East India Company.

Of course, there are plenty of people who work on a study in small segments. I was talking to a Guild member recently, who is working on a surname that is very common and happens to appear in my family. I promised to send them some material and during the course of the discussion we talked about where we started our research, how we kept it, both in terms of spreadsheets &/or genealogical software and also did we have more than one tree on our TNG sites. For those of us working on big studies, especially those with a huge presence in England and Wales it makes sense to start by County or by groups of counties, but sooner or later there will be migration whether that is from Cornwall to Cumbria, Devon to Derbyshire, Surrey to Sterling, Perthshire to Powys or anywhere else that takes your fancy on a global scale!

Whatever surname you are working on, go global at some point, otherwise how will you be able to reconstruct family groups or know what happened to someone in your study?

About Julie Goucher

Genealogist, Author, Presenter, native Guildfordian, avid note taker and journal writer. Lover of Books, Stationery & History; Surnames, Butcher & Orlando One-Name Studies. Pharos Tutor for all One-Name Studies/surname courses as well as Researching Ancestors from Continental Europe.
This entry was posted in A-Z Challenge 2019 - Tips, Tools & Starting Surname Research Series, Genealogy, Introduction to One-Name Studies (Pharos course 901), One-Name Studies. Bookmark the permalink.

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